The project, titled “Inner World”, is set to come out on 6 July, the Tibetan spiritual leader’s 85th birthday, and will feature teachings and mantras set to music.
Musician Junelle Kunin set the wheels in motion a few years ago when, stressed out while working at a bank in New Zealand, she began searching for music paired with teachings from the Dalai Lama to calm herself down and allow herself to focus – in vain.
Kunin, a practising Buddhist, proposed the idea of making such an album to The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but was politely turned down.
Nevertheless, on a trip to India – where Kunin says she typically gets a chance to meet the Dalai Lama – she asked again, this time writing a letter and handing it to one of his assistants.
“Inner World” is coming out five years after the encounter.
“I’d never heard him speak like this. He really was so excited ... he actually proceeded to explain to me how important music is,” Kunin said.
“He leaned forward and his eyes were sparkling, and his fingers were rubbing together and he [talked] about how music can help people in a way that he can’t; it can transcend differences and return us to our true nature and our good heartedness.”
The 11-track project will be released in conjunction with a companion booklet.
On her trip to India in 2015, Kunin wrote down a list of topics and mantras she thought would be great for the album, and recorded the conversations with the Dalai Lama for “Inner World.” The religious leader recites the mantras of seven Buddhas on the album, discussing topics like wisdom, courage, healing and children. The track “Compassion,” one of the most famous Buddhist prayers, was released on Tuesday.
When Kunin returned home, her husband, Abraham, who is also a musician and producer, helped her create music and sounds to enhance the Dalai Lama’s messages and powerful words.
Kunin said that although they’ve worked on the album for the last five years, it releasing it now feels extremely relevant.
“The entire purpose of this project is to try to help people. It’s not a Buddhist project, it’s to help everyday people like myself, even though I am Buddhist,” she said. “The messages couldn’t be more poignant for our current social climate and needs as humanity.”
Net proceeds from the sales of the album will benefit Mind & Life Institute as well as Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning (SEE Learning), an international education program developed by Emory University and the Dalai Lama.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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